February 2014 Poems

Welcome to the February selection of poems for Mountain Gazette. It was supposed to the January selection, but tempus fugit for sure. Seems like Labor Day happened just last week.

It’s a pleasure to share these poems with you, and I hope you’ll enjoy not only their voices and their wisdom, but the interesting ways in which they fit together. From a villanelle about the snowy confines of a snow day to the weird world of animal sculpture, from the silly idea that some things can’t be the subject of a poem to poems of desire, spring, and rebirth–what we dream of, what offerings we give to the cosmos, concluding with the most original of love poets, Sappho.





Time’s measure is paused, a perfect delay.
There’s no hurry to rush headlong outside,
When the cold winds blow and the sky is gray.

Just stay under covers; it’s a Snow Day!
Pull out a book, your hours have opened wide.
Time’s measure is paused, a perfect delay.

Its almost too cold to go out and play.
Arctic temps have descended, statewide.
Yes, the cold winds blow and the sky is gray.

Shall we bake bread and kiss the light away?
Then burn the stove after the light has died?
Time’s measure is paused, a perfect delay.

Unexpected, this spacious disarray–
This dreamlike spell, this winter’s boasting pride
When the cold winds blow and the sky is gray.

This gift will end in a resigned dismay.
Today’s slow hours have moved on snow light’s tide.
Time’s measure is paused, a perfect delay,
When the cold winds blow and the sky is gray.

Therese Samson Wenham




Before the sun peeked over sleeping trees
The mountain valley shrubs were white with frost.
Sheer fog hung still and low without a breeze
Before the sun rose over ridging trees.
Me, just standing quiet, scanning as I please,
No guilty weight from idle time I’ve lost —
Before the sun peeked over sleeping trees
The mountain valley shrubs were white with frost.

Therese Samson Wenham




There is a moose with bee’s-nest feet
planted on the shelf outside my shower.
It has twigs for antlers, its barrel head tilted
down, and is staring through the sliding glass doors
at where I’m standing under the shower head,
water cascading over mine and down my body,
which is glistening. The moose’s eyes are beady,
and are fixed on me, never wavering. But why?
Why is it staring at me? Does it wish
it were in the shower? Does it think me
a nuisance, or as it gazes at my nakedness,
does it wish it could be me and not a moose?
Or is it laughing inside, this wooden moose,
cackling at the sight of my stick-figure self?

George Drew




Tonight the moose on the shelf lost its head.
I was just standing there below the shelf
looking up at it and its head fell off,
bounced on the shelf and tumbled to the floor.
Flummoxed, I went outside and stood
for a while looking up at the moon. It was full.
Then I walked, thinking about the moose,
what it looked like without its head
four long stick legs and a long stick neck,
a barrel body twice the size of its barrel head.
The moon was full and the sky was blue
inside its black wrap of night, and when I turned
my shadow turned, lengthening in the light.
I screwed the moose’s head back on. It stayed.

George Drew




You can’t write a poem about skiing.
–Tenth grade literature and writing textbook

You might write a poem about emotion:
terror (heights, and all those ice slicks);
elation (you’re flying!); anger (the father
screaming stop to the six-year-old swooping
up the bunny run bowl); pride (her chin held high
as she slows to endure his yells); perseverance
(the half hour it takes to stand after a snowboarder
clips my left ski). You might write a poem
about taking a break. You might write
a poem about work, the thousand people
cleaning, serving, teaching, making snow
and rescuing people who’ve careened off
slope-edges into frozen forests. You might
write a poem about the young woman
who did just that, her limbs at every angle,
who opened her eyes to let out one sharp scream
before closing them again, for good, or
about the man who witnessed this, points out
the spot beneath you where she crashed.
He heard the scream, and says he hears it still.
You might write a poem about lost objects,
wads of Kleenex fallen out of pockets,
hundreds of black gloves empty under lifts,
the tiny glass pipe I saw, orange-striped,
nestled in tracks in the powder. You might write
a poem about avoidance, the chubby people
in the lodge, their boots unclipped, coats dry
and unzipped. Or—but this might be too easy—
you might write a poem about the earth—
the mountains under, above you, their silent
folds and cliffs, white hills, white wind—no matter
how fast you’re going, its holding you, still, for now.

Kimberly O’Connor 





There was a golden age
just before you were born
when things ran along
smoothly for most
and the pie was warm
and fragrant.
There were terrible wars as well
and injustices that are hard
to understand.
Crazy people as is their wont
obtained power in dangerous places
and many others felt afraid.
Awful storms rent some cities
and plagues rampaged
among the innocents.
Pious hypocrites offered their truths
and found many anxious buyers.
Some gave up, others gave in,
a few fought hard and hoped.
Some nights were clear and cool
and the stars shone down.

Roger Wehling





A packet of Kikkoman,
myriad silver hoops and bands,
all-color strings of plastic beads,
lighters, pens, coins, origami notes I don’t unprize.
Open to the sky: a tiny handmade book penned fully in.
Chopsticks, Hershey’s kiss,
peppermint, unwrapped;
pine cone; a pin proclaiming “yes, we can.”
A toy giraffe, the color
sucked from ear-tips, hooves and nose;
a stick of gum, half a plastic egg, a Kroger
discount card. Silk lei wound round a bone.
A Hellboy watch, thick leather band, a dozen snaps.
One of swords, all air and melancholy.
If it were the two, I’d recognize
a seeker seeking balance,
but with the one it’s hard to tell.
A bottle opener, a can opener;
a baggy full of human hair.
A pair of baby shoes,
Carl’s ski pass to Copper,
a rubber ducky, extra small.

Kimberly McClintock 





Because the snow melted,
because your sandals pressed down on soft earth,
because you said we should plant basil––
because you came to my house
after braiding your hair
with chrysanthemums
and your lips were cold.
You thawed and you said
you had never been kissed.
When you breathed
I knew you were
the herald of spring.

Jordi Alonso





Sleep, let your legs
sprawl with mine.
Let my lips plow
the light fuzz of your belly.
Dream of the ocean,
of driftwood fires on the shore,
of freshly gathered clams.
Let me till
moon-grown figs
in the morning.

Jordi Alonso





Jordi Alonso is currently a senior English major at Kenyon College. He works at The Kenyon Review as a social media coordinator and will begin work on an MFA in Poetry at SUNY Stony Brook Southampton in the fall of 2014. His poetry has appeared in The Volta, The Southampton Review, Neat, The Lyric, and other journals.

George Drew was born in Mississippi and now lives in upstate New York. He is the author of five volumes, most recently The View from Jackass Hill, winner of the 2010 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. His sixth collection, Fancy’s Orphan, will be published in 2015 by Tiger Bark Press, and his chapbook, Down & Dirty, in late 2014 by Texas Review press.

Kimberly McClintock holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and is the recipient of their alumni association’s 2009 Larry Levis Fellowship in poetry. She recently finished her first collection of poems, Without Breaking, and is at work on a novel. She lives in Colorado with the writer David Wroblewski.

Kimberly O’Connor is the 2013 Alice Maxine Bowie Fellow for Lighthouse Writers Workshop. Her poetry has been published in Copper Nickel, Colorado Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Inch, storySouth, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere.

Roger Wehling lives and writes in Denver, Colorado.  He has been workshopping poems at Lighthouse Writers Workshops for eleven years.  His poems have appeared previously in Copper Nickel among other publications.

Therese Samson Wenham received her BA in English from Hamline University and has been a member of Lighthouse Writers since 2001. In addition to raising a family and enjoying the rich lifestyle of Colorado arts and outdoors, she is currently pursuing an MA in speech language pathology from the University of Northern Colorado.